cover image Love: A User's Guide

Love: A User's Guide

Clare Naylor. Ballantine Books, $13.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-449-00556-9

The British Invasion rolls on, with permutations of Bridget Jones popping up everywhere, this time in Naylor's light-hearted and assured debut novel. Twentysomething Amy is a fashion assistant at Vogue, where she dresses undernourished teen models who ""look like heroin addicts in bondage gear."" Despite the Cinderella nature of her surprisingly unglamorous job, Amy remains staunchly convinced that fame and fortune are in her future. When she meets her Prince Charming in the form of gorgeous film star Orlando Rock, she believes that her dreams of romance and celebrity have finally come true. But then the hitch: although he returns Amy's affections, Orlando is determined to keep their romance a secret from the tabloids, escorting her only to out-of-the-way places not at all consonant with her ideas of the high life. Will Amy be able to forgive the screen god for merely loving her and wanting to be with her? Naylor hilariously details Amy's frenzied preparation for dates with Orlando while providing her with a lively supporting cast, most notably in the person of Amy's boss, who could easily do a stint on Absolutely Fabulous. She's also savvy enough to pepper the plot with the kinds of misunderstandings, complications and flies in the ointment that romantic comedies thrive on. Most importantly, however, she has created a comic heroine with a difference. A fan of Shakespeare, Dostoyevski and Ana s Nin, Amy's romantic expectations are glossed with literary allusions. With the sharply intelligent wit of a modern Elizabeth Bennett and the imagination of Ally McBeal, Amy is the best excuse yet for surrender (temporarily at least) to the Invasion. (July)